The laws relating to owning a mobile home, such as a park home or static caravan, are different to those for flats and houses. Your rights depend on whether your mobile home is stationed on a protected or unprotected site.
Protected and unprotected mobile home sites
Sites on which mobile homes can be stationed are protected or unprotected.
A protected site has planning permission that allows people to live on the site all year round. These sites are also known as park home sites.
Living on a protected site means the site owner:
- can only evict you for the reasons set out in the law
- must give you a written statement setting the terms that will be in your agreement with them and other important information
- can't normally stop you selling your mobile home
Unprotected sites only have permission for holiday use, though some people may live there for most of the year. Your agreement will say that you cannot live on the site all year.
If you're thinking of moving to a particular site, ask the owner to show you a copy of the site licence. Check that the site is licensed for residential use, not just as a holiday site. You could also contact the local council's environmental health department and ask whether there have been any problems with the site licence.
Find out if the site owner actually owns the land the site is based on, or if they lease it from someone else. If they lease it, ask how long their lease lasts. When their lease ends, your right to stay on the pitch ends as well.
If you live on an unprotected site, you and the site owner must stick to the terms of your agreement. Make sure you read this carefully. If your agreement is not in writing, ask the site owner to tell you how much notice you get if they want you to leave.
Buying and stationing a mobile home
Most banks and building societies don't offer mortgages for buying mobile homes. You may need to find a specialist lender if you need a loan to buy a mobile home.
Unless you own land, you need to rent a pitch to keep your mobile home on. You have to pay a pitch fee to the site owner.
On a protected site, pitch fees can only be increased annually. You probably also need to pay service charges, for services such as water, gas and electricity.
When you choose a site for your mobile home or buy a mobile home already on a pitch, ask the site owner about:
- pitch fees
- what it will cost to connect your mobile home to gas, water and electricity supplies
- service charges, and how are they calculated
- any other charges
You also need to pay council tax if your mobile home is sited on a protected site. Use the Gov.uk website to check your council tax band.
Your rights and obligations
Your rights and obligations must be set out in a written statement that the site owner must give you at least 28 days before you sign your agreement, unless you ask them to give it to you at a later date.
If you buy a new home in a park, or bring your own home onto the site, you can negotiate the terms of the agreement with the site owner.
When you buy a second-hand home that's already on the site, you must stick with the agreement signed by the previous owner.
Some of the terms of the agreement, known as implied terms, are laid down in law and can't be changed. These include:
- how the agreement can be ended, either by you or the site owner
- your right to sell your mobile home
- your right to gift your mobile home
- what happens to your mobile home if you die
- your rights if the mobile home is to be re-sited
- when pitch fees can be reviewed
There may also be additional express terms or conditions which can be included in your agreement so long as they don't come into conflict with the implied terms. For example, this can include terms about:
- service charges, and when you have to pay these
- maintenance and repair arrangements, for you and the site owner
- when the site owner can gain access to the pitch on which your home is stationed
Make sure that any express terms you want to include are written into the agreement. You won't be able to enforce them if they're not.
The express terms often include a responsibility to stick to the site's rules. These rules may cover things like:
- where you can park vehicles
- where you can hang washing
- whether pets are allowed
- restrictions on playing loud music at night
Your rights and obligations, and those of the site owner, depend upon the terms of your agreement. Make sure you read this carefully. If it is not in writing, ask the site owner to explain anything you are unsure of.
Mobile home owners have to pay a pitch fee to the site owner to rent the land their mobile home sits on.
If you normally live in your mobile home, you can claim housing benefit to help pay your pitch fee.
On a protected site the owner can propose changing the pitch fee once a year. They must give you 28 days' notice in writing. They must use a standard form called the Pitch Fee Review Form. This form explains your rights and the pitch review process. Pitch fees are usually paid monthly.
If you and the site owner can't agree on a new fee, the site owner can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal. Until the tribunal reaches a decision, you should continue to pay your current fee.
If your site owner is a member of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association or the National Caravan Council (NCC), you can take your complaint to these organisations and they will do their best to resolve the dispute.
Contact your council's environmental health department if you think the site owner is breaking the terms of their licence. The council can inspect the site.
Selling your mobile home
You have the right to sell your home on the open market if you are a mobile home owner on a protected site . You can also give it (gift it) to a member of your family.
The buyer or family member does not have to be approved by the site owner. In limited circumstances only, the site owner can apply to a tribunal for an order to refuse a sale.
The new owner of the mobile home must agree to any existing site rules.
It is illegal for the site owner to give false or misleading information that would interfere with your sale.
The site owner is entitled to up to 10% of the sale price as commission. The new owner must pay this within seven days of buying the mobile home.
Find out more from Gov.uk on selling mobile homes.
Eviction from the site
You can be evicted much more easily if your mobile home is stationed on an unprotected site than on a protected site.
Get advice if the site owner wants to evict you from the site. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.
Owning a mobile home on a protected site means a site owner can only terminate your agreement by getting a court order.
The court only grants an order if any of the following reasons apply and it is reasonable to terminate your agreement:
- you have breached a term of your agreement, and have not fixed this within a reasonable time, for example by falling into arrears with your pitch fees
- you have seriously breached a term of your agreement, and it is something that can't be put right - for example you assaulted another resident on the site
- you are not occupying the mobile home as your only or main residence
- your mobile home is in such poor condition that it is having a negative effect on the rest of the site
Living on an unprotected site usually means the site owner can evict you, and your mobile home, from the site without getting a court order. Your agreement normally sets out what the site owner must do if they want to evict you. The owner must stick to the terms of any agreement.